News: 25 Fort Bliss captains graduate the Captains Career Course Common Core
Story by Sgt. Valerie Lopez
By Sgt. Valerie Lopez and Master Sgt. Kelly McCargo
Headquarters, 1st Armored Division
FORT BLISS, Texas. - Friends and families gathered to cheer for the 25 Army Officers graduating from the Captains Career Course Common Core Proof of Principle (Common Core PoP) class at Hinnman Hall, Sept. 15.
“This course challenged the students to grow and to improve their leadership and communication skills,” said Col. William M. Raymond Jr. Ph.D., Director of the School of Advanced Leadership and Tactics at the Command and General Staff College. “The way to make Officers strong and to make the Army strong is through professional development.”
The Captains Career Course is considered the second major branch school which captains must complete prior to taking company command.
The CCC is currently 21 weeks long and consists of two elements: the Common Core (seven-and-a-half weeks) and the branch specific training (13-and-a-half weeks), and is currently all taught at branch installations.
The Common Core PoP was eight weeks long and was unique in that it was taught here at Fort Bliss, a FORSCOM installation vice at a TRADOC branch location.
“Leader development, especially the education of our officers, is critical and must be a shared responsibility between TRADOC and FORSCOM,” emphasized Maj. Gen. Dana J. H. Pittard, Commanding General 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss.
The Fort Bliss course concentrated on various leadership skills necessary to be a company commander or a staff officer at the battalion or brigade level. The curriculum included classes on mission command, full spectrum operations (i.e., offense, defense, stability, and civil support), training management, planning and MDMP, critical thinking, and leadership.
“This course was outstanding; the concept of Common Core being taught to all the branches … getting the full perspective of Army corps is ideal,” said graduating Capt. Frank Camara, Assistant S-3, 1st Battalion, 36th Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade, 1st Armored Division. “The best part of the course is learning from others’ experiences.”
Camara not only learned doctrinal knowledge, but also experienced professional growth.
“We read many professional books, and received personal counseling from different [senior officers] majors – generals … getting insight on the complexities of the Army and its future,” Camara said. “Anyone with the opportunity to go to the pilot course should do so, because it will help them be more prepared for the CCC.”
A fellow student agreed with Camera’s appraisal.
“It’s good to know the Army is focusing on the Common Core,” said Capt. Alex Foster, Assistant S-3, Headquarters, 1st Bde., 1AD. “Every officer needs to know the Common Core … essentially this course will make more well-rounded officers. The class is very beneficial—I am able to communicate better and ultimately I am more prepared for [future service].”
The course graduates said the Army-wide selection of experienced instructors (Small Group Leaders-SGLs) is what made their course a successful experience.
“The instructors were highly motivated, the best from each of their schools,” said Foster.
“There is no substituted for a competent, knowledgeable, dedicated certified instructor,” said Raymond.
“That’s what we need, to have the top five percent of their branch, critical thinkers and very knowledgeable teachers, leading and raising us to that level,” said Camara. “This learning experience, critical thinking, professional writing, and professional development is ‘second to none.’”
Five of the officers were selected as honor graduates for their performance and grade averages.
“[This was] a pretty impressive course,” said honor and top graduate, Capt. Eric Venditti, Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division. “It balanced some of the things we need as a company commander and some of the things we would definitely need as a staff officer.”
Far too often officers are assigned to staff positions before receiving the proper staff training to complete it. Having the course ahead of the time will help officers comprehend the job and its expectations quicker, Venditti said.
“This is an intermediate step, and I needed it,” said Venditti. “I feel better prepared to be a staff officer now.”
Another honor graduate agreed.
“I do feel better prepared to be a company commander and staff officer now because of the amount of time we spent digging through the manuals and training and actually conversing with our fellow students with a lot of different opinions and backgrounds from having all of the different branches, it opens up your ‘rucksack’ and put a lot of tools in it,” said 1st Lt. Pat Corbett, F Company, 51st Infantry Regiment, executive officer.
Students were placed in a “Temporary Duty for Education” status; they were exempt from all duties at their parent unit for the duration of the course.
“It is definitely nice part of the course to be able to go home to your family at the end of the day opposed to being TDY,” said honor graduate, Capt. Jaren Mull, 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment.
Col. James B. Mingo, 1st Armored Division and Fort Bliss Chief of Staff, spoke to the graduates on the responsibilities and expectations of captains and the continual education process they are going through. He emphasized the essential use of captains to our Army, especially in garrison and tactical operations.